The Circle – Dave Eggers

18302455Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers

Publisher: Knopf
Published Date: 10/08/13

Blurb: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

My Review:
I never heard of this book before I saw the preview at the movies.  Immediately I knew that it was a book first though, the entire premise really had that ‘book’ feel, and I thought it was one that I would really, really like.  So as soon as I got home from the movies that night, I went and added myself to the wait list with the library.

What I Loved:  This book was just real enough to believe.  I continued to go back and forth between thinking, ‘no way…there is no way that so many people would be okay with this,’ and thinking ‘how far away from this are we now, really…not much.’  There were many aspects of the corporation that were very familiar, as there are things (on a much smaller scale) that my own corporation does (ie. onsite health clinic, badges that track where you are in the building, etc.).

Not So Much:  First of all, Mae was kind of a pushover.  She bought in to everything so easily.  I felt like she really had a hard time having her own thoughts.  In the moments when it seemed like she was falling into a more….reasonable thought process, something would happen or she would mentally talk herself out of it.

Second, as mentioned, I had a hard time thinking so many people would be okay with the kind of integration that The Circle was attempting.  Many times I had to remind myself that the perspective that we are getting in this book was dominantly an ‘inside The Circle’ view, and aside from a few minor characters – you don’t get any other perspective.

Third, I felt like the ending was a huge let down.

The Verdict:  If you like the series “Black Mirror” this book is for you.  Like 110%, you’re going to love it.  I didn’t care for the series, and I was very luke-warm about this book.  This book is an adult book, and it has adult scenes.

Book Review: Jackaby – William Ritter

Title: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”


Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.


Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.


Review:
I picked up this book because I loved the idea of a paranormal Sherlock Holmes, however it took me quite a while to really get invested in this book.  I think that was because this felt more like watching a TV series than  a movie.  As a reader you get a pretty basic idea of the characters and who they were, Jackaby being the easiest since we all know Holmes pretty well, but I didn’t really feel like I got any character depth on any of them.  Jackaby’s character was my favorite because while he did echo all the parts of Sherlock everyone loves, he was very much his own character exhibiting a bit more compassion and personable attributes that Holmes lacked.  I enjoyed the diversity of characters and the legends/theories/stories presented; they made the discovery of ‘who-did-it’ part of the book more enjoyable.  I believe that people who enjoy Sherlock Holmes, and (in my opinion a better comparison than Dr. Who) the TV Series Grimm, this book (series) will have a lot of appeal.

Rated:  PG
Genre: Fiction – Mystery
Rating: 4 Stars

Book Review: Money Didn’t Buy Her Love & June Kramin’s Top 10 "Wedding" Movies

Title: Money Didn’t Buy Her Love
Author: June Kramin
Publication Date: April 23, 2013


Find it at: 

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Smashwords
Also available at iTunes, Kobo & other retailers

Synopsis:
Trying to get his bearings on an unfamiliar street and not paying attention, Jeremy slams his breaks to avoid hitting the most beautiful bride he has ever seen. When Danielle climbs in his truck, he assumes she’s in a hurry to get to her wedding; he didn’t realize she was escaping one. He agrees to let her return to his apartment so she can call for help, only she refuses to leave.

As the days pass, Jeremy finds it harder to fight off her passes and claims of falling in love with him. Besides having almost ten years on her, Jeremy discovers the family secret she had been trying to hide. How could the daughter of a billionaire settle for a plumber living paycheck to paycheck?

Despite every tactic her father throws at her and an ex-fiancé who refuses to let her go, Dani stakes her claim to the only thing she has ever truly wanted in her life and fights to make Jeremy hers.

My Review:

Money Didn’t Buy Her Love was a very entertaining read.  I admit that at first I had a hard time getting past Danielle’s personality; I mean she is a very rich and spoiled person, and straight from the beginning she behaves as such – not to mention she’s extremely overbearing.  However, as the book continues to move forward she begins to become a bit more normal. 
This book is perfect reading for a rainy day or a lazy Sunday afternoon.  The story-line is not really original, nor is there a whole lot of action.  It’s just a chic-flix-esque story about two unlikely people falling in love, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with picking up a feel-good book and just enjoying the ride.  What I really enjoyed about this book is Danielle’s determination once she realized she had fallen for Jeremy.  She really didn’t let much get in her way.  In this way, knowing what she wanted and doing whatever it took to get it worked for her – that isn’t always the case in books like this.  I also like Jeremy’s character.  He is less determined than Danielle, but there are so many things just stacked up against their relationship, including his past relationship with his ex-wife.  But he is gallant person, and almost your stereotypical “prince charming” when it comes to saving the day and doing what is right. It is his character that really makes this book work.
The only part of Money Didn’t Buy Her Love that I wasn’t overly thrilled with was the ending.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, the ending was the big red bow that we so often want, but to me it still felt a bit unresolved.  It was way to abrupt, like all of the sudden everyone throws their hands up and says, “okay, fine, have it your way.”  And that’s it.
**********************************************

I got the privilege of getting to request a Top 10 from June Kramin, and sticking with the theme of the book I decided to have her list her Top 10 Wedding/True Love themed movies, and here is her response:

Gah! This is tough. I’m sure I’ll think of others as soon as I hit send! With my middle grade series, you’ll see a lot of princess ones. I still love a great fairy tale.

Princess Bride
Notting Hill
Return to Me
Love Actually
50 First Dates
Kate & Leopold
Ella Enchanted
The Prince & Me
Time Traveler’s Wife
Tangled 😀

How many of these movies have you seen?  Me, I’ve seen 8 of them…which gives me 2 new movies to watch!  🙂

About the Author:
Bio: Wife, Mother, Writer, Lunatic. Not necessarily in that order.

“There is a fine line between genius and crazy… I like to use that line as a jump rope!”

June, who prefers to go by Bug, was born in Philadelphia but moved to Maui, Hawaii when she was four. She met her “Prince Charming” on Kauai and is currently living “Happily Ever After” on a hobby farm in a small town in Southern Minnesota.

She enjoys riding her Paint horse, Ringo, around the small ghost town they are playfully reestablishing with the neighbors and playing in Photoshop. Her son and daughter are her greatest accomplishments. She takes pride in embarrassing them every chance she gets.

Being hopelessly addicted to 80’s music is her super power.


June “Bug” Kramin’s Links:

website / fan pagemiddle grade site / twitter

Book Review: Someone Else’s Fairytale – Emily Mah Tippetts

Author Website:  Emily Mah Tippetts
Form: eBook
Genre: Adult (18-20’s)Fiction, Romance

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Jason Vanderholt, Hollywood’s hottest actor, falls head over heels for everygirl, Chloe Winters, who hasn’t gotten around to watching most of his movies. She becomes the woman every other woman in America is dying to be, but it just isn’t her fairytale.

My Review:  

Honestly, I feel like I’ve sort of read this book before.  Why? Because I think that the concept of a non-famous girl falling in love with a super-mega movie star is a hot concept right now.  I mean, think about it – dream come true, right?  Or not.  I think it depends on who you are.  (The other book, by the way, was Love Unscripted…in case you were wondering.)

Anyway, apart from their very similar concept, Love Unscripted and Someone Else’s Fairytale are quite different.  Mostly in the main character, Chloe.  Chloe is very down to earth.  She wants nothing major, especially not the attention that being the girlfriend of actor Jason Vanderholt would bring.  She isn’t the jealous type, very logical and slow to judge people, however she’s also very slow on the uptake.  She questions even the remote possibility that something could come from the friendship with Jason.

I am thankful not to have had to deal with another book of jealous, super insecure thoughts from the female lead.  I probably would have immediately put the book down.  I will say that while I got wrapped up in the story – I never once felt much of a connection to the characters in Someone Else’s Fairytale.  I always felt like we were skirting on the boundaries of who these people were.  I think part of that problem came from the lack of chemistry between Chloe and Jason themselves.  Sure they talked, went out and did things together, and even Skyped – but I felt like all of their interactions were very surface deep.  I really can’t put my finger on why – or how authors bring out this chemistry, while others don’t.  I do know that abstinence was a very important issue to author Emily Mah Tippetts, and I agree with her.  I liked that about this book, but I kind of think that the focus on it was a bit too heavy, and at times weird.  Then there was Matthew, who came off kind of nice at first, but then ended up kind of judgmental.  I don’t understand the switch.

Then there’s the sub-plot of Chloe’s relationship with Jason’s sort-of niece, Kyra.  Kyra is a troubled teenage girl who thinks she’s in love with an older guy, and thinks her entire family hates her.  The family is amazed that Kyra opens up to Chloe and actually talks to her, but Chloe is very apprehensive and stand-offish about it.  Her attempts at helping seem really weak and half-hearted to me.  But in the end, apparently Chloe says and does the exact right thing to turn Kyra’s life around.  It was really weird.

Then the OTHER sub-plot, Chloe’s half-brother who tried to kill her.  The book sort of started off all danger and cops and stalker brother-like.  But then there is like no climax to this.  They go to court, and eventually the brother gets caught on some other issues and is sent back to jail.  Then there is the cop who’s all like, “this issue is going to follow you, and never really go away…” but nothing more happens.  Yes, this was an obvious setup for a second book – but really?  Why? 
In the end, while I was okay with reading this book, I didn’t hate it or anything – I actually did get lost in it and found I couldn’t put it down at some points, but in the end it just left me kind of dry and…just wanting a little bit more.

BOOK REVIEW: Love Unscripted – Tina Reber

Author WebsiteTina Reber
Form: eBook, Netgalley
Genre: Adult Romance Fiction 
What girl at one time or another hasn’t dreamed of randomly catching the eye of their favorite, super-hot, movie star??  This is basically the story that Tina Reber has written. Even if Taryn wasn’t actually dreaming of the dreamy Ryan Christenson, she has definitely caught his eye and affection – this spinning her off into the limelight and razzel, dazzle of the paparazzi, grocery store tabloids and the craze that comes with ultimate fame.
 
Honestly, what Tina has captured is exactly why I do not go ga-ga over movie stars.  I absolutely love movies, and yes, of course I like the way actors look – who doesn’t…but even as a young teenager I really didn’t become star struck.  Okay, I take that back.  I really had a thing for Devon Sawa.  He was a cutie!  Anyhow, just knowing that 1. I never stood a chance, living in the middle of Ohio, of ever actually meeting these people, and 2. The fact that deep down they were just people, continued to keep me grounded ( and still does) about movie stars.  Reading Love Unscripted I was continually brought back to the Twilight craze when the first movie was filming.  I felt so bad for both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in those early days.  I honestly wouldn’t want to live that way.
 
Anyway, Love Unscripted captured my attention pretty early on.  Taryn’s chance meeting of Hollywood superstar, Ryan Christenson, was entertaining – and the chemistry was great from the very start.  The book continued to keep me engaged – mostly.  Really, over 700 pages of this relationship seemed a bit too much.  All I know is that I was torn between, “is this about done yet?” and “I have got to know what happens…” pretty regularly. 
 
I can tell that this book was a first complete and published novel (at least as far as I can tell by website, etc.) because it is a little bit rough around the edges.  Sometimes the dialogue was a bit flat and seemed….well…scripted.  There is a part where Taryn and Ryan decide to let their relationship “grow naturally,” and I kind of feel like the book could have used a little bit of that as well.  As I said, the story was good, and kept me engaged from the start, but it does get a bit rough to deal with Taryn.  She is a bit of a tough cookie.  She has had a run of bad relationships, and that doesn’t help, but she is suspicious at every corner – just waiting on the other shoe to drop.  (Who wouldn’t, he’s a MOVIE STAR!)  No matter how true it is though, the constant back and forth in the book would make anyone reading roll their eyes along with Ryan, “what, we’re back to this?” 
 
I also had a hard time with her difficulty receiving gifts, and feel that there should have been some kind of impactful big “ah-ha” moment that helped her overcome this…or compromise.  Something. 
 
The good parts – the chemistry between Taryn and Ryan make this book worth the read.  When it’s just the two of them, and no suspicion or anything, they are excellent.  They are both romantic and loving.  Ryan, from the start, is a normal down to earth guy with an awesome job – even a bit shy, which is always endearing.  With the exception of a brief time in Florida, he seems to remain that way.  Both of them just want to love and take care of each other, even if Taryn is a bit unreasonable with her, “I’ll never let them hurt you,” mantra that she continues to repeat.  Silliness is what that is.  Oh well.
 
I feel like I may have been a little hard on this book – I really did enjoy it.  I think that a good portion of my feelings about the parts I didn’t like would have been eliminate if a couple hundred pages of this book was cut out.  Yes, really.  They went back and forth on the trust issue so many times, I’m pretty sure we  (readers) could get the point without it happening so much.  I think that Tina’s writing will get increasingly better as she continues to write and publish books, and I’m looking forward to watch her grow.

Starting to read: Love Unscripted

I’m starting a NetGalley book called Love Unscripted, by Tina Reber.  I wanted to share the preface with you:

         “You never know which way the wind blows” was one of my father’s favorite expressions.  I used to think it was silly, just one of those sayings we tell ourselves when we don’t think we have control over our own destiny.
        But I’ve since come to realize that sometimes when those winds of change blow, they’re strong enough to toss you into a whole new world, and you really have no control over where you fly or how you land.
        I’d always been quite content with my life; it was fairly easy and predictable, with only a hint of drama here and there caused by an occasional light breeze.  There were a few times when Mother Nature hit me with her best shot, but I always managed to land on my feet.
       Somewhere along the line I actually thought I had gained control over the weather, keeping the possibility of a terrible storm always at bay.
       That was until the day the wind blew through my door and carried me away.

Love Unscripted by Tina Reber
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book on sale: 9/8/12; in print 1/1/13

A Cold Creek Reunion – RaeAnne Thayne

GENRE:  Adult Fiction – Romance
FORM: eBook – Netgalley

SYNOSPSIS (from Goodreads):   

He was the one you called when you needed rescuing…

But who was Taft Bowman going to call when he needed help? Because ten years ago Laura Pendleton, the love of his life, had left town without a word, then or since. Now she was back, with a new last name, and two adorable, high-needs little ones in tow. Well, Taft had been stupid enough to let her go once before…he wasn’t about to make the same mistake again. He’d never stopped loving her, and one look at those adorable little faces and he knew that he was meant to be with Laura and her kids forever. All he had to do was convince her that this time he was a man she could count on!

REVIEW:  So I’ve decided you might as well add “Small town life,” and “ranch cowboys” to my list of books I apparently gravitate towards. When I look at the scope of books I like to read, it gets broader every day. I mean, one day I’m reading about ships and pirates, another day I’m in the London Ton, the next I’m chasing down vampires, and then I’ll finish it off riding a horse. Such is the way of a book lover!

A Cold Creek Reunion
has actually been sitting in my iPhone for a while. It’s a book I got from NetGalley, and while I try my best to be pretty time sensitive when I get a book from them, this particular one has continued to be pushed back to another time. I mean, it’s a Romance, so it’s a winner from the start, however the story line has been done (which obviously doesn’t bother me, since I DID request the book – right?), but I think I have to be in the moment that I feel like reading that particular kind of book. It doesn’t always happen that way, but apparently this one was one of those kinds of books.

And I must really have been in the mood, because I read two books back-to-back with extremely similar plots. Small town life, runaway bride returns home, old flame flares. It’s obviously a very frequently done plot, in all of its varieties. Like I said, I choose this (these) books, so I’m not knocking the over done plot here – but I’m pretty sure I’ve read 3 or 4 more that have the same basic outline. Thankfully, author creativity makes them not precisely the same book. Anyhow, reading two of these books back-to-back has helped me to really appreciate the value of a good writer. I am not going to name the other book I read, because…well, just because; but let’s just say that the other book was “less than” A Cold Creek Reunion, as far as stories go. While reading the other book I thought, this is a nice story. I’m enjoying it. Of course I love the way the story plays out, the idea around a rekindled romance. But it was just okay. Reading A Cold Creek Reunion in comparison was almost like night and day. I really got to know and enjoy the characters. I loved the town and the people in it. I could envision the story playing out in my head, it became much more than just words on a page. There was life and meaning in there.

Now, if I could tell you what the differences are as far as writing technique, details, etc., I would. I wish I could tell you why one book was just okay and the other evoked such a response that in the end I actually had tears of happiness. Maybe I was just having a sappy day? Or maybe with A Cold Creek Reunion, I had more time to really focus on the story where as the other book I was constantly being interrupted by one or three kids. Those are very distinct possibilities, but I truly believe there is a reason behind why one captured my attention so greatly and the other just merely entertained.